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date: 26 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Theories of intergovernmental relations and public bureaucracy might predict that the civil service of the Scottish Government would be an independent political resource for the devolved system, exercised within a distinctive institutional pattern. Neither is quite the case, because both the officials and their structures derive from UK norms and models. Scottish civil servants are managerially part of the British Home Civil Service and the framework of appointment, pay, and relations with politicians is set from London. Government structures follow UK classification protocols based on funding and policy control, and do not offer novel hybrid models for conducting public business. Themes of integration, regionalization, and centralization have been evident, reflecting the weak policy and financial capacity of local government and the attraction of all-Scotland bodies in some functions. Lack of controversy, visibility, and distinctiveness on these issues is in itself a notable aspect of devolution. It proved an area of resilience in the 2014 independence referendum, when Scottish officials used UK protocols about exclusive loyalty to their own devolved ministers to resist accusations of partiality to either side.

Keywords: administration, civil service, devolution, government, Scotland

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